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Review: The Crow (Comic Book)

A while ago, I ordered the "The Crow" comic book. This is the material that inspired several great movies, as well as a TV show.

Honestly, I'm a little surprised that things this good could have come out of something so ... meh.

The Crow isn't a bad comic, but it just tells the story that you see in the first movie, in a pretty straightforward way. The drawing style of most pages is missing the mark just a bit. Not many gestures, not a lot of facial expressions, just a few characters positioned near each other like silent chess pieces. It gets better towards the end, though.

Also, the story itself misses the depth that I liked so much in the movies, and it is missing a decently structured arc. Essentially, the comic is the story of a dead guy who tracks down his (and his girlfriend's) killers and kills them in gory ways. The killers never stand a chance, and that's what makes it not very interesting. I'm also not sure about the kid and the cat he "saves". Basically, he just finds them and saddles two police detectives with the task of caring for them.

It was a good choice of the makers of the first movie and the TV show to emphasize the kid and de-emphasize the killing, comparatively.

You can see where the great ideas in the movies were inspired, but in comparison the comic feels like a rough draft. In true "form follows function" manner, the comic feels lifeless, desperate. If you are a fan of the movies and can't get enough, this comic is a nice read for completists. But if, like me, you read it more because you are a comics fan, and not because you are such a big fan of 'The Crow', you'll probably find it disappointing.

It reads like an average fan comic, and would not be at all interesting, if it didn't have the distinguishing feature of having been there first. I think this is the first time where I found the source material not to be richer and better than the movie adaptations.

Maybe this marked difference is due to the story behind the comic. It looks like O'Barr transferred his feelings onto the page perfectly. The problem is that depression after the death of a loved one is something most of us have felt already, and it doesn't give you much to enjoy in a story. It's not quite emo, but I'm sure an emo would like it.

On the other hand, the movies give us the opposite: Two people and a relationship so full of life that he just can't stay dead. And from this fundamental difference comes what I took away from The Crow in the movies: Relish your memories, they will power your life. Even if a part of you just died.

Reader Comments: (RSS Feed)
CD writes:
The story wasn't told to be an amazing piece of art. It was James O'Barr's way of coping with the death of his girlfriend. The Crow is his survivor's remorse and rage and being powerless to change things. It's not a superhero comic, it's anguish given form.
Uli Kusterer replies:
@CD: Yes, that's what I was trying to bring across in my second-to-last paragraph: It was intended as a catharctic experience for the author, and it feels that way. However, if you hear O'Barr speak about it, you find out that this sadly didn't work out for him. The main intent of this review is that I wanted to make people considering whether The Crow is something for them realize that it is not like the movies, not a dark and desperate, but in the end still uplifting story. It is a desperate drawing of the author's soulscape, plus wish-fulfilment as a vent for his aggression in this situation. It brings that across perfectly, but it is not a dramatic story in the more popular sense.
Erik DaRaven writes:
PLEASE CHECK OUT MY VIDEO ON: YouTube & MySpace (The real Erik Draven from the CROW)
Or E-Mail Uli privately.

 
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